Clapdale Wool is a project started in 2021 with the help of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Sustainable Development Fund to create wool products – hand knit yarn, jumpers, accessories – from wool sourced from within a 5 mile radius of Glencroft’s home of Clapham, Yorkshire Dales.

The first product available is Clapdale Wool 100g Hand Knit Hanks, we hope to have limited edition knitwear for sale in the next few months. You can also use our free knitting patterns for a bias scarf and a kids hat and scarf set created by our neighbour and hand knit expert Sandra Oakshott.

 

The Wool Dream

Glencroft has manufactured in the UK and used 100% British Wool in our range of jumpers since we began in 1987. This is yarn certified by British Wool as being from sheep living on UK fields. It’s been the most traceable wool we could find at a reasonable price but we’ve always hankered to use the sheep on the fields around us and contribute directly to our local community.

The Yorkshire Dales has had sheep on the hills for generations, from our local Dalesbred breed on the fells of Ingleborough to the more modern Texels, bred for meat and the North of England Mule, a cross between the Blue Faced Leicester and Swaledale breeds. However much of the wool has been worth less and less in recent years, with some farmers finding they had to pay to get rid of some breeds’ fleeces.

Inspecting a Dalesbred fleece Edward Sexton inspecting a Dalesbred fleece with Zoe Wooster and Maria Benjamin of the Wool Library.

Farm to Yarn

 
A random connection led to a conversation in mid 2021 with Maria Benjamin and Zoe Wooster at the Wool Library who had managed to create yarn with their own Herdwick sheep using a variety of scourers, carders, combers and spinners across Yorkshire.

We realised we could make our own wool as long as we started with 500kg – the minimum quantity we could get commercially scoured. Very soon after that we got in touch with the Yorkshire Dales National Park to help us get the project going, picked up wool from two local farms we’ve known all our lives and started the process that would result in Clapdale Wool!

From the start we wanted this to be sustainable and create a circular economy here in the Yorkshire Dales, so we paid farmers a decent price for their clip – enough to cover the price of shearing regardless of the breed – and will give 10% of the profits we make back to them. We want to grow the wool economy to benefit everyone involved, starting with those on our doorstep.

 

Packing wool into sheet bags Packing fleeces into wool 'sheets' for transport
Wool spun in Yorkshire on state of the art spinning machines Wool spun in Yorkshire on state of the art spinning machines

 

The Future of Clapdale Wool

This first batch of Clapdale Wool was a pilot project to see if we could make it commercially viable. We hope to grow this project over the coming years, working with more local sheep farmers, link in with the expertise and logistical might of British Wool, create tweed from the coarser breeds and dye some yarn to create a wider range of hand knit hanks.

You can read in depth about how we’ve done it so far in our series of blog posts:

Throwing wool from a first floor door Our novel technique to move the wool using the old hay door in our stable barn